Oop’s A Daisy

Posted by on November 30th, 2009 at 8:00 PM

OOP-featureUnbound by anthropological accuracy, V. T.Hamlin’s Alley Oopa shaggy-maned, slangy, prehistoric roughneck began his adventuresome existence amid the rocky landscapes of Moo: unrelated to the undersea sister city of Atlantis. Oop rode his pet dinosaur, Dinny, here and there; buddying around with Foozy, a gnarly, baldheaded fellow rover, who talked in rhymes. Hamlin’s agile, meticulous line not only kept Moo’s rubbled landscapes in fluent perspective. It brought crackling life to the fisticuffs and occasional flint-axe combat in which Alley found himself. Hamlin’s expertise could render the beauty of Alley’s dark-haired sweetie, Oola. (The word “sweetie” favored by Popeye for Olive Oyl underscores the roughneck chivalry both heroes shared). Alley’s roughneck independence raffled his relations with the Royal Court of Moo. These were: King Guzzle, a leopard-skinned, burly monarch; his shriekily combative Queen, Umpadeedle; and the Grand Vizier, whose cackling, white-whiskered head was topped by a stuffed raven.

Hamlin’s adroit delicacy sharp-focused both the rugged homeliness and the fatuous malice of the regal Mooviansi: His art’s nimble rhythms, its sardonic dryness, lent some unmistakable adult bite to the purported children’s strip. But Hamlin, a quiet humanist, was evidently moved by didactic aspirations. The Sunday Oop page, for a spell, ran Dinny’s Family Album: beautifully drawn depictions of the great prehistoric lizards. Thereafter, Foozy, the rhymer, conducted a supply-the-last-line-poetry contest. And, somewhat later, a 20th-century time machine whisked Alley and Oola into a present day laboratory, presided over by Professor Wonmug, rugged young Jon, and, later, the dark-whiskered Oscar Boom of shadowy motives, and scruples.

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Alley and Oola went era-hopping in a big way; the court of Cleopatra; Cesar’s Coliseum 9, where Alley reversed destiny for the would-be martyrs. Alley served as personal minstrel and counselor to Richard Plantagenet (pre-empting the historic Blondel). And once, at least, Hamlin’s literacy won the day. A bewildered Oop found himself witness (with brief breaks to appear as “Messeenger” to the procedure of Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Hamlin the Didact’s final triumph. The pretensions (my conscience rejects “efforts”) to replace Oop’s creator on his retirement, are ignominy itself: though never for that roughhousing goliath, or, his creator.

Image [©1947 United Media Services]

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